Photos: 30 years to the Tiananmen Square protests China erased from memory

Over seven weeks in 1989, student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square became China's greatest political upheaval since the end of the Cultural Revolution more than a decade earlier. Today marks the 30th anniversary of the bloody crackdown that ended the protest. The government has never given a clear account of how many were killed and has squelched discussion of the events in the years since. A timeline of the events that led to the military intervention on the night of June 3-4, 1989, and the aftermath

UPDATED ON JUN 04, 2019 05:28 PM IST 14 Photos
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A student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as troops withdraw near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 3, 1989. Corruption among the elite was a key complaint, but protesters were also calling for a more open and fair society, one that would require the Communist Party to relinquish control over many aspects of life, including education, employment and even the size of families. (Mark Avery / AP File)

A student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as troops withdraw near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 3, 1989. Corruption among the elite was a key complaint, but protesters were also calling for a more open and fair society, one that would require the Communist Party to relinquish control over many aspects of life, including education, employment and even the size of families. (Mark Avery / AP File)

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Wang Dan (C), a dissident during the demonstrations and member of the Beida students delegation, addresses foreign correspondents in Beijing on May 01, 1989. The death of Hu Yaobang, a leading liberal voice in the Party, deposed by Deng Xiaoping in 1987 for campus demonstrations calling for political reforms, attracted mourners to Tiananmen Square in April. They called for continuing his reformist legacy. (Catherine Henriette / AFP)

Wang Dan (C), a dissident during the demonstrations and member of the Beida students delegation, addresses foreign correspondents in Beijing on May 01, 1989. The death of Hu Yaobang, a leading liberal voice in the Party, deposed by Deng Xiaoping in 1987 for campus demonstrations calling for political reforms, attracted mourners to Tiananmen Square in April. They called for continuing his reformist legacy. (Catherine Henriette / AFP)

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People gathered at Tiananmen Square on June 2, 1989. The April protests had begun to wane after 10 days but were re-energized by an editorial published in the official People’s Daily newspaper on April 26, titled “The Necessity for a Clear Stand Against Turmoil,” that described the protests as a “well-planned plot” to overturn Communist rule. Following its publication, protests broke out in cities around China. (Catherine Henriette / AFP File)

People gathered at Tiananmen Square on June 2, 1989. The April protests had begun to wane after 10 days but were re-energized by an editorial published in the official People’s Daily newspaper on April 26, titled “The Necessity for a Clear Stand Against Turmoil,” that described the protests as a “well-planned plot” to overturn Communist rule. Following its publication, protests broke out in cities around China. (Catherine Henriette / AFP File)

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A young woman is caught between civilians and soldiers trying to remove her from an assembly on June 3, 1989. Frustrated by government indifference and the potential consequences of the April editorial, student leaders launched a hunger strike to demand dialogue with the nation’s leaders and recognition of their movement as patriotic and democratic. A May 18 meeting with Premier Li Peng was contentious. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

A young woman is caught between civilians and soldiers trying to remove her from an assembly on June 3, 1989. Frustrated by government indifference and the potential consequences of the April editorial, student leaders launched a hunger strike to demand dialogue with the nation’s leaders and recognition of their movement as patriotic and democratic. A May 18 meeting with Premier Li Peng was contentious. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

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Residents of Beijing surround an army convoy of 4,000 soldiers May 20, 1989. The tone increasingly combative, the leadership decided upon martial law on May 20. Party chief Zhao Ziyang visited students on May 19, accompanied by the hardline Li Peng and future premier Wen Jiabao. Zhao told the students, “We have come too late”. It was the last time Zhao was seen in public. He was later purged. (Ed Nachtrieb / REUTERS File)

Residents of Beijing surround an army convoy of 4,000 soldiers May 20, 1989. The tone increasingly combative, the leadership decided upon martial law on May 20. Party chief Zhao Ziyang visited students on May 19, accompanied by the hardline Li Peng and future premier Wen Jiabao. Zhao told the students, “We have come too late”. It was the last time Zhao was seen in public. He was later purged. (Ed Nachtrieb / REUTERS File)

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Residents near the smoking remains of armoured personnel carriers during clashes on June 4, 1989. Li’s move towards martial law has seen him reviled by many to this day as the “Butcher of Beijing”. Some 100,000 people marched demanding Li’s removal on May 23. A government-sponsored counter-demonstration called students “traitorous bandits” on May 31. (Manny Ceneta / AFP)

Residents near the smoking remains of armoured personnel carriers during clashes on June 4, 1989. Li’s move towards martial law has seen him reviled by many to this day as the “Butcher of Beijing”. Some 100,000 people marched demanding Li’s removal on May 23. A government-sponsored counter-demonstration called students “traitorous bandits” on May 31. (Manny Ceneta / AFP)

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Civilians stand on a government armoured vehicle in Beijing early June 4, 1989. Having decided that armed force was needed to end the protests, the leadership ordered in the army, a move that sent in an estimated 180,000 troops and police. City hospitals filled up with the dead and wounded. Hundreds, possibly thousands, were believed killed in Beijing and other cities during the night and in the ensuing roundup. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

Civilians stand on a government armoured vehicle in Beijing early June 4, 1989. Having decided that armed force was needed to end the protests, the leadership ordered in the army, a move that sent in an estimated 180,000 troops and police. City hospitals filled up with the dead and wounded. Hundreds, possibly thousands, were believed killed in Beijing and other cities during the night and in the ensuing roundup. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

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A Chinese man stands alone to block tank convoy leaving Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989 in a minutes-long standoff before two men pulled him away. Captured on camera, the “Tank Man” image spread around the world as a symbol of defiance against the crackdown and one of the defining images of the 20th century. The man’s identity and fate are unknown. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

A Chinese man stands alone to block tank convoy leaving Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989 in a minutes-long standoff before two men pulled him away. Captured on camera, the “Tank Man” image spread around the world as a symbol of defiance against the crackdown and one of the defining images of the 20th century. The man’s identity and fate are unknown. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

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Chinese troops and tanks gather in Beijing, one day after the military crackdown on June 5, 1989. A day later, Chinese State Council spokesman Yuan Mu said on television that the known death toll was about 300, most of them soldiers with only 23 students confirmed killed. China has never provided a full death toll, but rights groups and witnesses say the figure could run into the thousands. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

Chinese troops and tanks gather in Beijing, one day after the military crackdown on June 5, 1989. A day later, Chinese State Council spokesman Yuan Mu said on television that the known death toll was about 300, most of them soldiers with only 23 students confirmed killed. China has never provided a full death toll, but rights groups and witnesses say the figure could run into the thousands. (Jeff Widener / AP File)

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Activist Ding Mao, one of the leaders of the 1989 anti-government protest on April 8, 2019 in Chengdu, China. The army’s crackdown was widely condemned in the West, as well as in Hong Kong, then a British colony, where supporters organized missions to bring those wanted by authorities to safety. On June 13, Beijing police issued a most-wanted notice for 21 student leaders, 14 of whom were arrested. (Leo Ramirez / AFP File)

Activist Ding Mao, one of the leaders of the 1989 anti-government protest on April 8, 2019 in Chengdu, China. The army’s crackdown was widely condemned in the West, as well as in Hong Kong, then a British colony, where supporters organized missions to bring those wanted by authorities to safety. On June 13, Beijing police issued a most-wanted notice for 21 student leaders, 14 of whom were arrested. (Leo Ramirez / AFP File)

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Dong Shengkun recalls his experience of the 1989 protests during an interview in Beijing on April 28, 2019. While many former leaders and participants have moved on, embracing lives and careers that have little direct relation to the movement, others remain wedded to the cause, either by vocation, through survivors' guilt or because their actions permanently put them on the wrong side of the authorities. (Ng Han Guan / AP)

Dong Shengkun recalls his experience of the 1989 protests during an interview in Beijing on April 28, 2019. While many former leaders and participants have moved on, embracing lives and careers that have little direct relation to the movement, others remain wedded to the cause, either by vocation, through survivors' guilt or because their actions permanently put them on the wrong side of the authorities. (Ng Han Guan / AP)

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You Weijie, 66, looks at a photograph of her and husband Yang Minghu, in Beijing on April 10, 2019. Three decades later, relatives of the victims are still demanding to know the truth about the most taboo subject in modern Chinese history. Her husband Yang Minghu, an office worker, was not a demonstrator, but he ended up among the hundreds who died. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP)

You Weijie, 66, looks at a photograph of her and husband Yang Minghu, in Beijing on April 10, 2019. Three decades later, relatives of the victims are still demanding to know the truth about the most taboo subject in modern Chinese history. Her husband Yang Minghu, an office worker, was not a demonstrator, but he ended up among the hundreds who died. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP)

UPDATED ON JUN 04, 2019 05:28 PM IST
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A police officer walks past the Monument to the People's Heroes and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on May 27, 2019. By 1992, most of China’s overseas relationships had been restored and Deng used his remaining influence to relaunch economic reforms that ushered in a new era of growth while the party enforced its monopoly on political power. (Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg)

A police officer walks past the Monument to the People's Heroes and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on May 27, 2019. By 1992, most of China’s overseas relationships had been restored and Deng used his remaining influence to relaunch economic reforms that ushered in a new era of growth while the party enforced its monopoly on political power. (Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg)

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Surveillance cameras at Tiananmen Square on May 31, 2019. The protests, first labelled a “counter revolutionary riot,” are now merely referred to as “political turmoil,” if they are referred to at all. The party tries to scrub all memory of them. The government has never expressed regret and rejected all calls for an investigation, leaving the protests an open wound in Chinese history. (Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg)

Surveillance cameras at Tiananmen Square on May 31, 2019. The protests, first labelled a “counter revolutionary riot,” are now merely referred to as “political turmoil,” if they are referred to at all. The party tries to scrub all memory of them. The government has never expressed regret and rejected all calls for an investigation, leaving the protests an open wound in Chinese history. (Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON JUN 04, 2019 05:28 PM IST
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